Christmas Makes Me Ignorant
by Nic Olson
Promptly at 12-noon each day, when lunch break begins, I turn off the radio. CBC Radio One is my daily deliverer of news and interviews, albeit news and interviews that do little to capture the truth behind current events, because, like all mainstream media, has reasons to not upset the prevailing order. Following Q with Jian Ghomeshi, the deified interviewer and cultural compass to the barely-left-of-centre young adults of Canada, and following the half-hour segment about medicine, Francophonie, or comedy, Saskatchewan’s most awkward radio host takes the reins on the aptly named, nothing-of-substance, Blue Sky.
Hungover in a van, clutching the natural hydration of a coconut water driving home from Saskatoon, we listened as people called in to ask questions to a Butterball turkey cooking expert. One-sixty-five Celsius in the breast and one-eighty in the deep thigh. Confident great-aunts claimed the greatest turkey dressing in the southwest of Saskatchewan and asked about the cooking properties of smoked turkey. Public broadcasting strikes again; getting down to the issues that matter to Canadian families—gluttony and blind tradition at all costs.
And now I am here, alone on Christmas day, just wishing that a call-in show about turkeys would exist once more so I would know where the hell the deep thigh of a 29-pound turkey is. Christmas makes me ill, and has consistently in my short life. This year I have been resting with pneumonia-like symptoms at the house alone, saving myself for the days after Christmas where work and friends will take another toll on me to ensure that I catch the dreaded fiction-defying double-pneumonia. Last year it was fever-hallucinations in the basement of a party house. When I was eight the family spent the holidays in Edmonton, and as I vomited though the holiest day of the year, my family rode rollercoasters at the West Edmonton Mall. I sat at home and pouted, the highlight of my day being a 600mL bottle of ginger-ale. Spending Christmas home alone hasn’t been as exceptional as that of Kevin McAllister, but it hasn’t been as miserable as people seem to think it would be. That is because it doesn’t matter. Being alone today is no different than being alone two weeks ago.
Talk radio has been playing continuously in my parents’ garage since far before I existed. It has just recently been a conscious part of my daily life, and only now, with a personal investment of months, can I really distinguish between shows. The production quality, the natural flow of interviews, the call-in shows. Rex Murphy’s voice is about as hard to mistake as his fossil face and recently on his own Cross-Country Check-Up I had the opportunity to hear five or six passionately uninformed Canadians weigh in on prostitution. I learned nothing except that ignorance is painful.
It is also inevitable. We are all unlearned creatures and will continue to be this way regardless how long we live. Ignorance isn’t inherently negative. It becomes harmful when the ignorant believe they are experts. Call-in shows celebrate ignorance by allowing the comfortable middle-class to weigh in on topics that are often foreign to them, and encourages them through polite recognition of their opinions. An opinion is irrelevant if it is ignorant. The democratic nature of such a forum is as imagined as that of a constitutional monarchy, for although it is open to the public, it purposefully alienates those it deems unimportant, often those who don’t pay taxes. And like the debates and propaganda in politics, these call-in shows only further people into their partisan stubbornness. When ignorance is purposeful, in a blissful attempt at self-preservation, it is equally as harmful. These forms of ignorance are harmful not to the ignorant, but to the subject which they are ignorant about.
As a person who has been labelled a vegetarian, I am currently roasting two of fifteen turkeys. I will not eat them, and the rinsing of their giblets and the massaging of their frozen breasts makes me ill. I am admittedly ignorant about cooking turkeys, and dammit, I’d like to keep it that way.
Christmas makes me sick for infinite reasons, all of which I will save for the next call-in show I hear, asking about family Christmas traditions.